Red is where the Heart Is

05 Mar 2024

Dita Brown leads the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women Movement ®

By Monica Kreber

Dita Brown’s absolute favorite color is red.

She loves to dress in it, too – red dresses, red shoes, red earrings and lots of heart-themed attire. She is not much of a nail salon attendee but if she does go, guess what her go-to color would be?

“It is not hard for me to find red,” she said.

She loved the color even before she began volunteering with the American Heart Association, so it is fitting that she is now leading the association’s Go Red for Women movement in Charleston. As the name would suggest, its members are going to paint the town red this year, continuing their mission to empower women to be advocates for their own health in order to be successful in other aspects of their lives. After all, your health comes first.

“If we don’t care for ourselves, we’re not going to be there for our employer,” Brown said. “We’re not going to be able to be there for our children. We’re not going to be there to make an impact in the community.”

That drive to make a positive difference in her community has followed Brown ever since she moved to Charleston in the early 2000s.

Brown is originally from Kosovo, a small country in Eastern Europe. She met her now-husband, Scott Brown, in 2003 while he was visiting her hometown from Mt. Pleasant on a work-related trip. Thus began her new adventure: coming to the Lowcountry.

As a spry 22-year-old, everything about Charleston was new to Brown; new world, new culture, new language—everything. Brown explored a career in banking, figuring she would learn a lot and get to connect with people.

It ended up being the right move; now, she cannot picture doing any other job.

“You get to help a lot of people – and I’ve learned a lot, personally,” she said.

Brown started her banking career with Wachovia Bank in Mt. Pleasant in 2008. She was still with the bank when Wachovia was acquired by Wells Fargo in 2011.

In the last seven years, Brown has gotten more involved in commercial banking and in August 2019, she joined Beacon Community Bank in Mt. Pleasant as the Vice President of Commercial Banking.

It was a big change going from a big bank to a small bank, but Brown has embraced it, as well as the people with whom she now works.

“I work with great people—everyone’s involved in the community, which I’m passionate about,” she said. “We have a really, really great culture, which I think says a lot about who we are and what we stand for as an organization.”

Brown added her workplace is not just about giving loans or providing financial counseling.

“We truly want to help the community as a whole, which is important. That’s our mission,” she said.

That love of serving and bringing the community together has done more than impact Brown on a professional level; it only seems fitting that having such a big heart led her to the American Heart Association and its Go Red for Women movement, which has become one of Brown’s biggest passions.

Brown initially got involved with the association in 2018 when she was still working for Wells Fargo. She was introduced to Jennifer Waites, Director of Development for the American Heart Association in Charleston and Katie Schumacher, the association’s Executive Director, and subsequently learned about the Go Red for Women movement.

Brown said she was drawn to how the women truly live by their mission to help people.

“I knew I wanted to be a part of it and volunteer and raise awareness,” she said.

American Heart Month is recognized every February, and 2024 is a special milestone as the American Heart Association will celebrate its centennial celebration, marking 100 years of service of saving and improving lives. This year also marks 20 years since the inception of the association’s Go Red for Women initiative, which addresses the awareness and clinical care gaps of cardiovascular disease in women.

National Wear Red Day took place on the first Friday of February as part of the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women initiative. Coast to coast, landmarks, community members and neighborhoods decided to “go red” to raise awareness and support for the fight against heart disease. Movement supporters, led by Brown, visited City of Charleston Mayor William Cogswell’s office to proclaim Feb. 2 as National Wear Red Day in support of women’s health.

This year is also a big deal for Brown, who will lead the Go Red for Women initiative in Charleston. The initiative has more than 20 women in leadership roles from around the Charleston area that meet up throughout the year to find ways to educate women on their heart health.

“We’re meant to serve,” Brown said. “I believe in serving and helping others, and the American Heart Association has given me an opportunity to be a voice in the community.”

Something people might not know is that heart disease is the number one killer of women. Nearly 45 percent of women ages 20 and older are living with some form of cardiovascular disease. Less than half of women entering pregnancy in the country have optimal cardiovascular health.

A big event for the initiative is the annual luncheon; this year it is being held May 30 at The Gaillard Center. Brown is always moved by the event—it will be full of people, all sporting red, who support the same mission.

“Being a part of Go Red for Women has opened up my eyes and I look at the world completely differently…and I look at my health completely differently,” she said.

When she saw how the women in the movement live by their mission to take care of themselves, Brown has aptly followed suit; she is a very early riser, starting her day somewhere around 4 a.m. to go on a 30-minute run or do some other form of exercise. She has also completed five races since volunteering with the American Heart Association. Running, she said, has become one of her biggest personal accomplishments.

Outside of banking and campaigning for women’s health, Brown is an avid reader. She attends church every Sunday and always makes time during the week to hit the sauna.

“I am a firm believer that no one can make you happy—not a new job, not more money, not a bigger home…you’ve got to work on yourself and be content (and grateful) with who you are,” she said.

She and her husband Scott will celebrate 20 years of marriage this year. They live in Mt. Pleasant with their two children, 9-year-old Rose and 7-year-old Zander. From her growth through her banking career and finding ways to support the women in her community, it is evident Brown has a big heart—a healthy and happy one.

BIO

Dita Brown

VP Commercial Banker at Beacon Community Bank; 2024 Go Red for Women Chair at the American Heart Association.

Hometown: Mitrovica, Kosovo

Family: Husband Scott and two kids Xander (7) and Rose (9)

Hobbies: Reading, running, and cooking healthy meals for the family 

Learn more about how to support Go Red for Women at www.heart.org/charlestongored.

 

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